Benefits of an Integrated POS Technology Platform
Using a system from one provider leads to better information and integration, improving cost control. By Emily Wheeler, Contributing editor, FastCasual.com
If the kitchen is the heart of a restaurant operation, the point-of-sale system is the brain. The ability to take orders and process payments efficiently and reliably is crucial to successfully running a business. But for many restaurant operators, the POS system is a patchwork of hardware and software from different vendors. The card reader may be from one provider, while the touchscreen is from someone else. The printer is from a different provider than the first two pieces of equipment, while the software is from still another. Even those operators who start out with the best of intentions may find themselves coping with a variety of hardware and software products. As items need to be replaced or repaired, the business owner may simply choose to purchase the cheapest or most easily accessible replacement, regardless of manufacturer or compatibility with the existing system. As anyone who has tried to run Microsoft Office on a Mac knows, working with incompatible products leads to slower running times and massive frustration.
Restaurant operators with small staffs and tight profit margins may find themselves acting as their own IT person. And when dealing with a variety of vendors, it’s easy for providers to claim the error is the result of another company’s product. “When you buy software from one vendor and hardware from another, and something goes wrong, there will always be an element of finger pointing,” said Hunter Allen, the owner of POS2Go, a POS provider based in Nyack, N.Y. “Say the credit card machine goes down. You call the software provider, they say it’s a hardware problem. You then call the hardware provider, and
they say it’s a software problem. Meanwhile, you can’t accept credit cards and your restaurant is losing money.”
This white paper, sponsored by Troy, Mich.-based restaurant technology provider NEXTEP SYSTEMS, will discuss three benefits of an integrated POS technology platform: more information, easier integration and better cost control.
To make good decisions, operators need the best information possible. Choosing a cloud-based POS system gives operators access from anywhere. For fast casual and quick-service restaurant operators who may have a number of restaurants across a large geographic area, a cloud-based system allows the operator to view information from all restaurants at one central location rather than having to visit each individual restaurant to gather logs, sales numbers and personnel data.
One solution is MyNextep from NEXTEP SYSTEMS, a cloud-based customer portal. Customers can log in with a secure password and view all of the POS information from wherever they are. Because it’s all on the same system, the information is the consistent across all portals. Managers at individual locations may calculate key metrics, such as inventory, differently. With local POS systems, it is challenging to gather the information from each location, and then compare the numbers accurately. A cloud-based system, however, ensures that all locations are using the same methodology. Not only is the information the same across all portals, but owners also have better access to that information. A high-quality, integrated POS system should offer customizable reporting features so owners can dive deep into the management of each location. Whether it’s checking on staffing needs, comparing order times across locations or monitoring ticket averages, customizable reports give operators the information needed to improve business practices. With customizable reports comes the ability to track limited-time offers and specials. Operators can run reports on those specific items to see how well they sold, compare sales during the LTOs to times when those offers were not available and compare the sales at the stores with the specials to those without them. A special that proves popular easily can be tracked and either become a permanent part of the menu, or be rolled out to more locations.
An integrated POS system has all of the hardware and software from one provider so that all systems are compatible and work well together. But if issues do arise, an integrated system offers a smoother path to resolution.
“Having an integrated system eliminates finger pointing,” said Tommy Woycik, president of NEXTEP SYSTEMS. “If some-thing goes wrong, there’s only ‘one throat to choke’ instead of having to call a number of different vendors, each of whom blames someone else. That means issues are resolved more quickly, and the frustration level is considerably less.”
Even when the system is working perfectly, updates will need to be installed regularly. With a non-integrated system, it is up to the provider to know when an update is released and then to install it, hoping that the new upgrade doesn’t cause a bug somewhere else in the system. On the other hand, an integrated system offers automatic upgrades that are compatible with all elements of the system.
“If you’re installing the upgrade on your own, you just have to hope that the patch you install in one place doesn’t, for example, take your printer down,” said Allen. “But an integrated provider knows what system you’re running, so they can tell you if upgrades or security patches are available, and how that will affect other parts of the POS system.”
While purchasing an integrated POS system may have a higher initial cost, the savings are substantial. When the entire POS system is integrated, all system parts work together, which makes it easier to budget for upgrades and replacements. “In a piecemeal system, you have to worry that, ‘Oh, the card reader is five years old, so it will probably need to be replaced soon, and this receipt printer is three years old but I know that particular brand breaks down more quickly than this other brand, so I should be prepared for that to go down, too,’” said Woycik. “All the typical things an operator has to worry about with a system that’s been put together in fits and starts over the years are eliminated with an integrated system. You can know ‘Hey, the system is going to need to be replaced in a certain number of years,’ and then budget accordingly.”
And when upgrades do need to happen, they are easier to implement, so less time is spent by managers on IT issues.
“You’re not on the phone trying to understand how to make hardware product X work with software upgrade Y,” said Woycik. “It’s more of a plug-and-play solution, so you can get back to managing the store.”
Less downtime due to incompatible upgrades and slow replacement times also leads to greater customer and employee satisfaction, meaning better repeat business and less turnover. And in an industry with tight profit margins, even small improvements in those areas can make a
The greater breadth of information provided by an integrated POS system offers cost savings as well. With more thorough information, operators can manage inventory and labor costs more efficiently, as well as identify issues at specific stores and work to resolve them more quickly.
The POS system is one of the most vital elements to a successful and profitable restaurant. Choosing an integrated, cloud-based system provides superior information and control for operators, ultimately reducing costs and increasing customer satisfaction.
About the sponsor: NEXTEP SYSTEMS, based in Troy, Mich., provides a complete suite of integrated
foodservice technology solutions for restaurants, casinos, airports, grocery stores and other high-volume foodservice venues. From self order to point of sale to digital signage, NEXTEP provides and supports the complete integrated foodservice platform.